Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda, is quickly gaining popularity among digital nomads for its safety, cleanliness, and growing tech scene. In this Kigali Digital Nomad Guide, you’ll find all the necessary information to help make your decision to choose this vibrant city as your next remote work destination.
Upon arrival, you’ll immediately notice that Kigali is a welcoming and cosmopolitan city with a variety of restaurants, cafes, and coworking spaces catering to the needs of digital nomads like yourself. The city also boasts stunning landscapes, an affordable cost of living, and fast, reliable internet – all essential factors to support your remote work lifestyle.
As you begin planning your trip and settle into your new surroundings, make sure to take advantage of Kigali’s attractions such as the Kigali Genocide Memorial and the Kimironko Market. Also, don’t forget to explore nearby wildlife reserves, which offer a variety of breathtaking experiences, including gorilla trekking at the Volcanoes National Park.
Read More >>> Rwanda Digital Nomad Guide
4 Reasons Kigali is a Great Destination for Digital Nomads
Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, has become an increasingly popular destinatin for digital nomads in recent years. With its low cost of living, excellent infrastructure, and friendly locals, you can comfortably live and work in Kigali on a monthly budget of around $1,000 USD.
One of the main advantages of living in Kigali as a digital nomad is the proximity to stunning natural experiences. With numerous outdoor activities, you can easily plan weekend trips to places like Lake Kivu, Akagera National Park, and volcanic trails in the Virunga Mountains. Exploring Rwanda’s “land of 1000 hills” will provide breathtaking views and unforgettable experiences during your time off.
Safety and Cleanliness
Kigali is a safe city, with low crime rates and vigilant security, making it an excellent base for digital nomads. You can feel secure walking around the city, even at night. Additionally, Kigali prides itself on being exceptionally clean, free of pollution, and well-maintained, ensuring a comfortable environment for work and leisure.
The vibrant art scene in Kigali will undoubtedly inspire and motivate any digital nomad. With numerous art galleries, studios, and cultural centers across the city, you will have ample opportunities to appreciate and engage with Rwandan art and culture. Don’t miss the Inema Art Center and the Niyo Art Gallery for memorable experiences.
As a digital nomad, you’ll appreciate the thriving coffee scene in Kigali. With multiple cafes and coffee shops offering excellent Wi-Fi and workspaces, you can easily find your ideal spot to work on your projects in a relaxed atmosphere. Don’t forget to try the locally grown and roasted Rwandan coffee, known for its distinctive flavor profile, as you work and explore Kigali’s bustling cafe culture.
Things to do in Kigali
- Visit one of the art galleries to experience local Rwandan art.
- Have a cup of fermented milk at a milk bar.
- Enjoy a drink with friends at Gisimenti Car Free Zone, and take part in the mass exercise on Car Free Day (every first and third Sunday of the month).
- Sample Kigali’s street foods and green tea at the famous Biryogo Car Free Zone in Nyamirambo.
- Join a community yoga class at Ituze Wellness Centre. You can also find more yoga spots in Kigali for your yoga training.
- Hike Mount Kigali. Or any of the other multiple trails in Rwanda.
- Visit a museum. Check out the best museums in Kigali here.
- Learn the traditional Rwandan dance at places like NP Arts Center.
- Take a motorbike taxi ride to Nyamirambo. You can go all the way to Fazenda Sengha, an exciting location with multiple activities like zip lining and archery on Mount Kigali in Nyamirambo.
Read More >>> The Best Things To Do in Kigali
Best Neighbourhoods in Kigali for Digital Nomads
When choosing a place to live and work in Kigali, you’ll want to consider several factors such as connectivity, safety, proximity to social amenities, and the overall vibe of the area. Here are some of the best neighbourhoods in Kigali for digital nomads.
Kimihurura – popular choice among Western expats for its wide range of restaurants, cafés, and bars. A great spot for socializing and networking. With reliable internet and comfortable workspaces available at places like Waka Kimi, this area is also convenient for getting work done.
Nyamirambo – lively and diverse neighbourhood that offers a unique cultural experience, as it represents a melting pot of Rwandan traditions and influences. Here, you’ll find several local markets, street food vendors, and a vibrant nightlife scene. While it may not have as many dedicated coworking spaces, there are still plenty of cafés and restaurants with good internet connections where you can work.
Kiyovu – upscale and serene neighbourhood, ideal for those who prioritize peace and quiet. Located near the city centre, Kiyovu is home to several embassies, international organizations, and high-end residential properties. If you’re looking for a more relaxed atmosphere to work and live in, this is the place to be.
Gikondo – more residential area, making it perfect for digital nomads who want a more local experience. Though it’s further away from the city centre compared to other neighbourhoods, it’s still well-connected by public transport. Gikondo’s calm and laid-back vibe will make it easier for you to focus on your work, while the nearby eateries and markets offer authentic Rwandan delicacies to enjoy during breaks.
While exploring Kigali, Rwanda as a digital nomad, you will discover several coworking spaces suitable for your remote work needs. These spaces offer top-notch facilities along with a conducive work environment and an opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals.
A vibrant work environment, with a lot of personal and professional support and networking events.
Pristine environment, varied indoor and outdoor workspaces that can help ease monotony, and flexible membership plans that cater to every requirement.
A modern, sleek space in the heart of Kigali.
If you’re a digital nomad in Kigali, you’ll be glad to know there are a variety of laptop-friendly cafes to work from. These cafes offer a comfortable environment and stable internet connection that’s essential for your productivity.
- Question Coffee in Gishushu. Known for their delicious coffee and relaxed atmosphere, this cafe offers a perfect ambiance for work. The tables are spacious enough to accommodate your laptop and the internet connectivity is suitable for general tasks.
- Shokola Cafe in Kacyiru. Apart from its mouth-watering menu items, this cafe boasts a serene environment suitable for getting some work done. With reliable Wi-Fi and plenty of seats available, you’ll find it easy to settle in and focus.
- The Women’s Bakery. This unique establishment not only offers scrumptious baked goods but also supports women empowerment through its business model. Their Wi-Fi is reliable, making it a fantastic place to work remotely.
- Rubia Coffee Roasters. Known for their high-quality coffee and cozy atmosphere, this cafe is an excellent choice for those looking to hunker down and get some work done. The internet connection is solid, and the atmosphere is conducive to productivity.
- Pure Africa Cafe also in Kimihurura. With its charming outdoor seating area, this cafe provides a pleasant atmosphere along with a stable Wi-Fi connection for completing your tasks.
Remember, the internet connection in these cafes may not be ideal for video calls, so it’s a good idea to have a local SIM card from providers like MTN as a backup. By exploring these laptop-friendly cafes, you’re sure to find the perfect spot to work efficiently and comfortably in Kigali.
Internet in Kigali
4G and 5G
In Kigali, you’ll find decent 4G coverage with average mobile data speeds of 10.08 Mbps. As of now, 5G is not yet available in Rwanda. To stay connected, consider buying a local SIM card upon arrival. Some popular options for SIM cards include 1 GB data for 7 days at $9 USD or 3 GB data for 30 days at $24 USD.
There’s a variety of Wi-Fi options in Kigali for digital nomads. Many cafes, restaurants, and co-working spaces provide reliable Wi-Fi connections. The average broadband and fiber internet speed in Kigali is 15.42 Mbps, which is sufficient for most remote work tasks. However, be prepared for occasional connectivity issues, as internet service can be slower in some areas.
Rwanda has made progress in terms of internet freedom, but it’s essential to be aware of potential restrictions while working online in Kigali. Though the government supports the growth of the digital sector, occasional content filtering or social media blocking might occur. To ensure secure and unrestricted access to the internet, consider using a VPN service.
Best VPNs for Rwanda
When selecting the best VPN for your stay in Kigali, consider the following points:
- Reliability: Choose a VPN with a stable and secure connection to keep your data safe.
- Speed: Opt for a VPN with fast servers, ensuring a seamless browsing and streaming experience.
- Global Coverage: Pick a VPN provider with a wide range of server locations to access content from around the world.
Some popular VPN options for Rwanda include ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and Surfshark. Keep in mind that using a VPN can help you maintain a secure and private connection, especially when accessing public Wi-Fi networks or online banking services.
Read More >>> The Best VPNs for Digital Nomads in Africa
Renting an Apartment in Kigali
Kigali, Rwanda’s capital, is becoming an increasingly popular destination for digital nomads. Renting an apartment in Kigali can be a hassle-free process if you’re aware of your options. In this guide, we will look at three types of accommodations available for digital nomads: serviced apartments, Airbnbs, and expat apartments.
Serviced apartments offer a great balance between comfort and flexibility. These fully-furnished accommodations typically come with essential amenities such as WiFi, housekeeping, and utilities included. You can choose to rent serviced apartments on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Some popular options in Kigali include Kigali View Apartments and Suites and Century Park Business Apartments. The advantages of a serviced apartment include:
- Flexibility in rental duration
- No need to worry about utilities and housekeeping
- Amenities like swimming pools, gyms, and restaurants often available on-site
For short-term stays, renting an Airbnb is an excellent option. With Airbnb, you can find a wide range of accommodations, including entire apartments, private rooms, or shared spaces. It is essential to read reviews and communicate with the host regarding your expectations to ensure a smooth stay. Some benefits of renting an Airbnb in Kigali are:
- Unique local experiences
- Affordability for short-term stays
- Wide variety of options for different preferences and budgets
Expat apartments are a popular choice for digital nomads planning to stay in Kigali for an extended period. These apartments are often rented out by other expats who have left the country. To find an expat apartment in Kigali, you can join Facebook groups like Kigali Housing Market or browse websites like Rentberry. Expat apartments can be an ideal choice due to:
- Lower rental prices compared to serviced apartments
- Furnished and often pre-equipped with essential amenities
- Networking opportunities with other expats in the area
Remember to research the neighborhoods and compare different options to find an apartment that meets your needs and preferences.
Read More>>> The Best Hotels in Kigali for Digital Nomads
Best Time(s) to Visit Kigali
According to The Best Time to Visit Kigali, the ideal times to visit Kigali are from March 19th to May 27th or August 27th to October 28th. These periods are based on the average temperature and humidity provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
During these periods, you can expect:
- Pleasant weather and temperature
- Lower humidity
- Better outdoor exploration conditions
Worst Time(s) to Visit Kigali
As a digital nomad, you want to avoid any difficulties while settling in a new city. Therefore, it’s important to know the worst times to visit Kigali.
The busiest months, and thus less ideal for a digital nomad, are from June to July and December. Tourist crowds during these times may affect accommodation prices and availability. On the other hand, the least popular month to visit Kigali is September, which could indicate unfavorable weather or less exciting events.
- Avoid June, July, and December due to higher tourist numbers
- September might have unfavorable conditions for touring or working outdoors
By considering the best and worst times, you can make an informed decision about when to venture to Kigali as a digital nomad, ensuring an enjoyable stay and optimal working conditions.
Must-Dine Restaurants in Kigali
When you’re exploring Kigali as a digital nomad, you’ll undoubtedly need a great spot to grab a meal. The city is home to a variety of top-notch eateries that cater to different tastes and preferences. Here are a few must-try restaurants during your stay.
Filini Restaurant & Bar is a highly-rated Italian restaurant in Kigali that offers delectable dishes like seafood pasta and risotto di mare. They are known for their delicious pizza selections and cozy atmosphere. Relax and unwind as you enjoy their excellent hospitality and diverse menu.
If you’re craving authentic Indian food, treat your taste buds at Zaaffran, which is considered by some as the best Indian restaurant in Kigali. Their menu features classic North Indian dishes such as tandooris, biryanis, and mouthwatering curries. Don’t forget to try their array of flavorful bread options like naan, paratha, and roti.
For the meat lovers, Repub Lounge is a must-visit. This atmospheric spot offers a variety of scrumptious meat dishes, along with respectable cocktails to quench your thirst. The laid-back ambiance and creative interior make it a great spot to appreciate Kigali’s culinary scene.
Finally, don’t miss out on Cucina Restaurant — another popular Italian establishment in Kigali, renowned for its delicious pizza and pasta selections. The charming atmosphere and friendly staff will make you feel right at home while you savor their scrumptious dishes.
In summary, Kigali boasts an impressive culinary scene with plenty of must-dine restaurants to suit every palate. Remember to sample some of the local Rwandan dishes as well to get a true taste of the country’s flavors. Enjoy your culinary adventures and make the most of your time as a digital nomad in Kigali.
Shopping in Kigali
Groceries and Supermarkets
In Kigali, you can find various supermarkets to suit your grocery needs. Some popular options include Simba Supermarket, Nakumatt, and Sawa Citi Market. These supermarkets carry a good range of local and international products, making it easy for you to find your favorite food items. Additionally, for fresh fruit, vegetables, and local produce, you can explore the Kimironko Market, which is a bustling market filled with local vendors.
When looking for souvenirs to remember your time in Kigali, consider visiting the Caplaki Craft Village. This open-air market has a wide array of unique handmade items, such as traditional baskets, jewelry, clothing, and woodcarvings. You’ll also find beautifully crafted artisanal products that showcase Rwandan culture at Inema Arts Center and the Azizi Life Boutique.
For those interested in local and international fashion, Kigali has a growing fashion scene with several boutiques and shops to explore. Visit House of Tayo, a boutique that offers contemporary African fashion, or Sonia Mugabo, a local designer who creates unique, high-end clothing. Moshions is another fashion destination offering tailored clothing with a blend of African designs and modern style.
Art and Independent Boutiques
Art enthusiasts will definitely enjoy the vibrant art scene in Kigali. Galleries such as Ivuka Arts Center, Inema Arts Center, and Niyo Arts Gallery showcase captivating contemporary Rwandan art as well as artworks by international artists. Independent boutiques like Haute Baso and Kurema, Kureba, Kwiga are great places to find unique products, from home décor to clothing created by local artisans.
Getting Around Kigali
Moving around Kigali via public means is pretty easy, as long as you’re going to well-known places. It becomes more difficult to get to newer places or more hidden areas, including most residential homes. You’d need to give directions, which requires you to know the local name of the place (not the street or house number). But, a maps app comes in handy to direct the person.
Be prepared to negotiate prices, as you’re likely to have that foreigner tax added to the quoted price.
Kigali is a very wallaby city, especially during the day. While its still quite safe at night to walk, I only recommend doing so for short distances in busier areas.
These are the most common means of transport for Rwanda’s middle class and expats. They’re more convenient than buses as you can simply walk out to the road and hail one of the numerous riders. Motorbike Taxis are also affordable (costing $0.50 to $2 per ride) and fairly safe. They only carry one passenger at a time, and will have an extra helmet for passengers as well, quite unlike neighboring Uganda and Kenya.
You will face some language barrier with most motorbike taxi drivers as only a few of them understand some English or French. You’ll often need to spend some time explaining where you’re going, and direct them once you’re enroute.
While there are no Ubers or Bolts, you’ll find ride-hailing apps like Yego Cabs and Move by VW, which are basically like Uber. But, they are unfortunately not the most reliable. Expect the occasional cancellation, as well as a long back-and-forth trying to explain exactly where you are. The apps have also not been the most responsive, and you will be better off calling the ride-hailing company numbers to book a ride.
Ride Hailing Numbers:
1010 – Move by VW
9191 – Yego Cabs
Alternatively, if you have friends in Rwanda, you can get contacts of reliable taxi drivers.
Rwanda’s bus system is quite organized, in comparison to its neighboring countries. You need a bus card which you can load and use to pay at different bus stops. And they’re pretty strict on pickups and drop offs only at designated bus stops.
Bus rides are also inexpensive. The highest I paid the few times I used a bus was $0.20 for distances where I’d pay $1.41 via motor bike, for instance.
But, expect varying wait times as there’s no time schedule to get the bus. You will also have to walk quite a distance to a bus stop depending on where you live, which makes it the least convenient means of transport on our list.
Renting a Car or Motorbike
You’ll find a lot of individuals and companies renting out cars in Kigali. You may even find that your Airbnb host or landlord also offers car rental services. It costs about $20 – $30 to rent a car per day.
If you’re looking to get a motorbike rental, Kigali Motorbike Rental charges $20 per day, and even cheaper for longer term renting.
Check out this guide to getting around Kigali for some more tips.
Getting From Kigali Airport
Kigali International Airport has taxis lined up at the airport’s parking lot waiting to ferry passengers to their locations. But, they’re quite expensive, particularly when you are a foreigner and don’t know the rates.
Alternatively, if you’re going to stay at an Airbnb, consider requesting for taxi cab contacts from the hosts, which should cost much less. It will also save you the hassle of trying to give directions with language barriers. And speaking of directions, get a sim card right from the airport, and load it up with data to access your maps app. It will come in handy to direct your cab driver to your destination.
Also note that the airport charges parking fees ($3) even when the cab driver only went in to drop the passenger off, or pick them up. So expect slightly higher total cab prices to cover the parking fees.
Safety in Kigali
Theft & Pickpocketing
In Kigali, theft and pickpocketing are not widespread, but you should still remain cautious. Keep an eye on your belongings and avoid displaying valuable items openly. When visiting crowded places or using public transportation, make sure to secure your wallets and phones in zippered pockets or bags.
Safety at Night
Kigali is generally considered safe at night, but it’s essential to remain vigilant. Stick to well-lit areas, and avoid walking alone in dimly lit or unfamiliar places. If possible, walk in groups or use reliable transportation options like registered taxis or ride-sharing services. According to this source, it’s best to stay in popular areas and avoid venturing too far away.
While Rwanda is more tolerant than some other African countries, homosexuality is not widely accepted by society. Discretion is advised for LGBTQ+ travelers. Avoid public displays of affection and keep your orientation private when interacting with locals. Stick to LGBTQ+-friendly establishments when possible, and do some research before your travels to familiarize yourself with any local customs or potential areas to avoid.
Safety for Women
Kigali is generally safe for women, but it’s important to exercise caution, especially when traveling alone. Dress modestly and avoid drawing unwanted attention to yourself. If possible, travel with a companion or in a group, and avoid walking alone late at night. As with any destination, it’s prudent to trust your instincts and leave any situation where you feel uncomfortable.
The risk of terrorism in Kigali is low compared to other global cities. However, remain vigilant at all times, particularly in crowded areas, large gatherings, or high-profile events. Stay informed about local news, and take note of any security warnings or recommendations from authorities. In case of an emergency, make sure to know the contact details for your country’s embassy or consulate in Rwanda.